They did not make Milwaukee famous or James Bond simply the best or Florida the sunshine state. However, the puppets Beany and Cecil The Seasick Sea Serpent did make the proverbial plastic beanie with the propeller on top, well, proverbial.
To give you an idea of how implacably groovy they were, Albert Einstein and musician Frank Zappa were hyper fans of the intrepid duo. That is literally everybody from A to Z.
Right now, go to the attic, dig out that plastic beanie of Stan Freberg legend and Los Angeles folklore. I will wait.
Still waiting . . .
Back already? That was fast. I assume you have your beanie on and the propeller is working.
In much the same way as graffiti is rap music without the music, the five inventions that follow are lottery winners without the lottery.
1. Ever need a second hand?
Sooner or later, everybody makes a bow. Yes, I got it right: make a bow, not take a bow. The usual occasion is wrapping presents for Christmas and birthdays. I noticed that when people make a bow, they usually need a second person to put their finger on the knot in process. The second person applies pressure while the first person ties the bow.
There ought to be a device that would allow just one person to get the job done.
I have no doubt that the invention in question is as simple as it is ingenious. A hybrid of a paperclip and clothespin comes to mind. Gift wrappers everywhere will buy it. The entire country of Japan, too -- in fact, anyplace where gift-wrapping is an art. We are talking megabucks.
2. Do you ever go to a restaurant and the table wobbles? You call over a waiter, and what does he do? Over 90% of the time, he will put a match folder under the troublesome table leg.
There ought to be shims we can buy in a package. The shims would vary in thickness, shape (round and square), and color to match furniture legs and floors.
For the exceedingly obsessed, the package would include some exceedingly thin shims so that you could fill a space to within a millimetre or so. The shims would have an adhesive on one side so that they would stick each other and to the rebel furniture leg.
Every restaurant in the world would want a package. I assume people would reach down and steal the shims, so an option would be to print the restaurant's name on them. Sort of a consolation prize -- like Miss Congeniality.
Hotels, bars -- lots of places would buy a package of shims. The long and the short of it: there are thousands of table and chair legs out there begging you to earn a prodigious living by stabilizing them.
3. Do you ever use a food processor? If so, you undoubtedly noticed how hard it is to slice or dice a small quantity of food -- say just one or two carrots.
The problem is that the space through which food enters the machine at the top is too large. There ought to be a gadget that would fill up that empty space, so that one or two items can be processed neatly, cleanly, and without shredding your fingers.
Every proud owner of a food processor -- me included -- would buy the space-diminishing device, provided the price is right. That is why if you are the happy inventor who gets there first, every manufacturer of food processors -- Cuisinart, Magimix, KitchenAide, Hamilton Beach among them -- will beat a path to your door.
4. Do you have photo grey eyeglasses? You know, the glasses that turn dark in the sun, then light again when you go inside? How do they do that?
Silver halide is mixed with the glass or plastic. Silver halide darkens when exposed to ultra-violet light. Ah haa!
One hot afternoon, I was sitting in a traffic jam. The sun was reflecting off the car in front of me, blinding me. I thought that if my entire windshield were photo grey, I would be spared not only optic nerve damage but also numerous expletives deleted.
I actually inquired about making car windows photo grey. An expert on glass at Los Alamos Laboratory told me that it was a good idea but too expensive. That was in 1980. Maybe technical improvements since then have made the invention economically feasible. Or, if silver halide is still too expensive, maybe there is another chemical that will produce the same result.
While we are at it, how about photo grey windows for buildings? Trains? Buses?
5. The last invention looking for an inventor involves The Chameleon Effect. Make that "Affect" if you want to provoke a grammar fight.
When I was a kid I had a pet chameleon. I spent hours watching it change colors. The chameleon's outer skin layer is transparent. Deeper layers consist of cells called chromatophores, iridophores and melanophores. By opening and closing cells to reflected light and by moving cell pigments around, the chameleon changes its colors. Different species of chameleons turn different colors.
With all the sophisticated computer techniques that exist these days to manage colors, you would think there would be a way to transfer the chameleon's color-changing ability to non-chameleon surfaces.
The fashion industry would be revolutionized. You could change the color of your textiles whenever you wanted; you could mix and match your clothes, upholstery, towels, curtains, whatever. For color-blind people like me, there would even be a chart showing what color combinations work. You would enter Hex or RGB numbers for colors, and presto. Your wife or girlfriend will be astounded by your new ability, and start asking you for advice -- instead of giving you reprimands.
The pentagon would be Buyer Number 1. Think of the colossal potential The Chameleon Effect offers for camouflage. Ships on the high seas, airplanes flying high, soldiers, tanks, buildings: anything in need of camouflage would be a natural -- how shall I say it? -- target.
While we are in the camouflage department, I see the equivalent of a Harry Potter invisibility cloak:
Illustration: a soldier wearing a cloak would face a brick wall inches away. The cloak would copy what is in front of it in much in the same way a camera or a computer copier works. Colors, forms: everything would be duplicated precisely.
Once the "photograph" was imprinted on the cloak, the solder would do a 180-degree turn. If you were standing in front of him, you would be looking at an exact copy of the wall area directly behind the soldier. Result? Unless the soldier moves, he would be almost invisible -- especially at a distance.
No, I did not forget. Technology already exists to reverse a mirror image in a mirror. That technology would be applied to the image on the cloak. P.S. Do not write and ask me how that mirror reversal works.
That is all for today. Time to take off your plastic beanie. What is that you said?
You did not find any of the five inventions worth pursuing?
Gosh, I hope you will try again. Be sure to spin the propeller in the right direction.
nike tn pas cherNike Free Thomas Belvedere is the pseudonym of a political consultant to senators, representatives, governors, and the media. He worked for all levels of government, and for all three branches. An accredited expert witness in federal court, he has a Ph.D. in political science.
He authored "The Source of Terrorism: Middle Class Rebellion."